I Don’t Ask

You cover the hole in your throat with your finger to tell me the story,

the odd scratchy vibrato striking me with its extra softness,

a tiny kazoo lodged in your trachea played pianissimo.

I have even more trouble listening to your words over images of eating through a tube.

They don’t really call that eating do they? I don’t ask.

You say you must choose now: eating or talking.

It’s too hard to do both at the same time.

The plastic tube, your food, I envision oozing gray liquids.

Is it possible to inhale what you’re eating?  I don’t ask.

Is coughing to death if it runs into your lungs a fear you have?  I don’t ask.

It’s the story you don’t tell that’s the cautionary tale.

You quit smoking before I did, and I smoked for many more years.

I can’t stop staring at your finger pressing closed the hole in your throat,

wonder how long it took you to learn that.

Do you ever try to sing anymore?

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